Why Using Concept Maps?
Concept Maps are one of my standard artefacts of projects or whenever I need to understand a new area. They help to define the vocabulary by setting all relevant terms into relation to each other.
Such a way of defining a vocabulary is (to my experience) superior to a traditional dictionary where you find a paragraph regarding the meaning of a word. Why? Simply because I have never seen anyone reading a 10 page document of definitions without the mind wandering off. A Concept Map in contrast is something that everyone can concentrate on. And by creating verifiable sentences you can double-check each relationship in a simple and constructive way. Just create a set of concept maps and take every new project member through each relationship. You will be able to align the meaning of the terms. What if the other person disagrees on a sentence? Great! You just hit a misalignment that might become problematic at a later stage. Align on how to use the terms. As I said, it’s a communication tool.
The Graph below describes the Concept Map Domain. Concept Maps have basically only two Node Types:
You normally start with one or more concepts and then start expanding the map by adding more relations between concepts and by adding more relevant concepts. In order to emphasise a few concepts the domain has a second Concept node: the Emphasised Concept. It comes with a different colour. If you use is sparingly the you will be able to highlight the most relevant concepts.
|Node Type||Description||Is Starting Point / Successors|
|Concept||Concepts (or Terms) are nouns. They are explained in a concept map by putting them in relation to each other.||Yes /
|Relation||A verb, connecting a Concept with another. The Relation creates with the source and destination Nodes a sentence that can easily be validated.||No /
Concept, Emphasised Concept
|Emphasised Concept||This is a second Concept Node in order to highlight some important concepts. Use this type sparingly.||Yes /